Florida battles Mexican strawberries

12/02/2013 10:50:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Though some look to a suspension agreement (which sets floor prices on imports), Guan says Florida’s strawberry sector is much smaller than Florida’s tomato industry and is dwarfed by California’s berry production.

As many grower-shippers in both states are invested in Mexican production, a dumping lawsuit wouldn’t be likely, he and others said.

Mexican tomatoes are imported through a suspension agreement, first put in place in 1996 to halt a dumping investigation.

Rather than going the lawsuit route, the Dover-based Florida Strawberry Growers Association is fortifying production and marketing and studying competition.

Florida growers are examining the vulnerabilities of their competitors as well as their own and seeing what they can do better, said Ted Campbell, executive director.

He said any competitive advantage is transient and that Florida’s growers need to pay attention to the challenge and improve varieties.

“Mexico is a valid competitor and is doing what any competitor should do and they’re pretty good at it,” Campbell said.

“We have to make sure we are minding our business correctly so we can remain competitive. Competition can either kill you or make you a lot better.”

One solution is to drive more demand to accept increasing world production and start building consumer recognition for Florida’s fruit.

During a July lunch with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the governor asked Campbell to name the five things that make Florida strawberry growers better than anyone else.

Campbell said he likes that business logic and said any business is in trouble if it can’t list its competitive advantages.

Why should the consumer care? And what makes Florida berries different?

Those are questions Florida’s strawberry industry needs to tackle.

Because growers ship in a commodity world, the work will be in getting consumers to recognize those advantages.

dohlemeier@thepacker.com

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Cecilia    
December, 03, 2013 at 08:11 AM

It should be rethink, to gain the market share. We are losing too many crops in Florida and all over the USA.

JM    
December, 09, 2013 at 02:23 PM

Florida Growers should be able to take advantage of lower transportation costs. Growers in Mexico have to transport their berries half way across the country, around 20-24 hours, before they even reach the states. Florida is in an advantages position to supply the east coast at a lower cost. They should be working deals with carriers to reduce shipping costs coming in and out of Florida. Workers wages are always an issue as American workers are always demanding more, but shorter transit times equals fresher berries.

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